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West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced


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#11 djp

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 11:56 PM

View PostCactus, on 29 June 2013 - 06:03 PM, said:

The Sharks are Puerto Rican and that actually does matter a lot - when they sing 'one look at us and they judge twice' that's one of the many foundations for their desperate situation and the gang warfare that results from it. While it's true that there are a lot less Hispanic or Latino performers in the UK than in the US, Maria, Anita and the others are iconic roles. There are many, many parts for young white sopranos and this simply isn't one of them. The fact that they did it in the 90s doesn't mean they should continue it.

If we can have Eponine's who are a different colour to their  parents, and Fantine's who are different again to their child, there's no problem with non hispanic Marias. All you need are people who look like gang members. and in any, conceivably casted, gang on a UK stage show, if you worry about race at all ,  one hispanic is going to look out of place if they are the only one there.

There's a bizarre logic applied here too. At one level how can it be fine to have brits playing Americans, or all sorts of  Europeans, but not hispanics?   On another level,  Puerto Ricans are Puerto Ricans and proud of it. They are not acme generic Hispanics - as if anyone from Portugal or Brazil or Mexico or New Mexico would do. I am still trying to work out the logic of employing Philppinos as Vietnamese for Miss Saigon - it must look odd to the Vietnamese who have territorial disputes with the Philippines,  and when the Philipinnes deployed troops on the US side in the war. I don't think we need to scour the UK for a Puerto Rican who can  actually sing Maria too.

#12 jamescrispy94

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:05 AM

DAMN! I was hoping Peter Griffin would get cast as Anita.



#13 Cactus

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 04:17 AM

View Postdjp, on 29 June 2013 - 11:56 PM, said:

If we can have Eponine's who are a different colour to their  parents, and Fantine's who are different again to their child, there's no problem with non hispanic Marias. All you need are people who look like gang members. and in any, conceivably casted, gang on a UK stage show, if you worry about race at all ,  one hispanic is going to look out of place if they are the only one there.

There's a bizarre logic applied here too. At one level how can it be fine to have brits playing Americans, or all sorts of  Europeans, but not hispanics?   On another level,  Puerto Ricans are Puerto Ricans and proud of it. They are not acme generic Hispanics - as if anyone from Portugal or Brazil or Mexico or New Mexico would do. I am still trying to work out the logic of employing Philppinos as Vietnamese for Miss Saigon - it must look odd to the Vietnamese who have territorial disputes with the Philippines,  and when the Philipinnes deployed troops on the US side in the war. I don't think we need to scour the UK for a Puerto Rican who can  actually sing Maria too.
The problem is that most roles in musical theatre already call for white actors and actresses and casting parts that have specifically been written for non-white performers without respecting that is whitewashing. Lea Salonga said it best: 'There are so many roles already written for white [actors], written for Caucasians; so it’s like, the ones written for us, let us play them.' (source)

#14 Matthew Winn

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 06:12 AM

View PostCactus, on 30 June 2013 - 04:17 AM, said:

The problem is that most roles in musical theatre already call for white actors and actresses and casting parts that have specifically been written for non-white performers without respecting that is whitewashing. Lea Salonga said it best: 'There are so many roles already written for white [actors], written for Caucasians; so it’s like, the ones written for us, let us play them.' (source)

Are there many roles written for white performers? There are many roles where people are familiar with those roles being played by white performers, but that's not the same thing.

I can think of only three circumstances where race (or appearance of race) matters:

(1) When it's implied or specified that two characters are the same race.
(2) When it's implied or specified that two characters are of different races.
(3) When the script explicitly mentions race.

And in (1) and (2) the actual race doesn't matter, so long as it matches up.
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#15 jaqs

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:22 AM

It is very hard to believe the only option they had is a whiter than white blond.
I think it would be better not to do the production.

#16 Titan

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:24 AM

VERY well said djp

#17 Cactus

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:34 AM

View PostMatthew Winn, on 30 June 2013 - 06:12 AM, said:

Are there many roles written for white performers? There are many roles where people are familiar with those roles being played by white performers, but that's not the same thing.
There are, actually, and you mentioned the second issue as well: people are familiar with roles that aren't specifically written as white being played by white performers and see them as 'white'. That is problematic. And now add to that the fact that white performers are also playing roles which are specifically written as NOT white as is the case here. It doesn't take a lot of effort to realise how privileged white performers already are.

View PostMatthew Winn, on 30 June 2013 - 06:12 AM, said:

I can think of only three circumstances where race (or appearance of race) matters:

(1) When it's implied or specified that two characters are the same race.
(2) When it's implied or specified that two characters are of different races.
(3) When the script explicitly mentions race.

And in (1) and (2) the actual race doesn't matter, so long as it matches up.
In West Side Story the script explicitly mentiones it: The Sharks are definitely Puerto Rican, it's addressed lots and lots of times, they comment on how the 'Americans' aren't 'truly' Americans but Polish and criticise their own status as 'foreigners' and how 'one look' at them will make people 'judge twice'. National and ethnical identity are issues.

#18 Matthew Winn

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 04:45 PM

View PostCactus, on 30 June 2013 - 11:34 AM, said:

There are, actually, and you mentioned the second issue as well: people are familiar with roles that aren't specifically written as white being played by white performers and see them as 'white'. That is problematic.

Which shows that don't specifically have racial issues as a plot element have a requirement for the characters to be white? I honestly can't think of any at the moment. I know many shows are cast as white by default, but as I said, that's not the same thing.

For example, I have Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on my mind at the moment because it was mentioned in another thread. Every Chitty cast I've seen has had all the principals as white, but I don't recall anything in the script that requires it. What's to stop you having, say, a black Truly Scrumptious, a Chinese Potts family and an Indian Baroness? Apart, that is, from "everyone expects them to be white because that's how they are in the film", which is not the same thing as having the roles written to require white performers.

I'm not saying that white performers don't have it easier than everyone else, with other races tending to be shoved into roles specifically written for their ethnicity while white people get all the others by default. I'm looking for evidence to back up the assertion that most roles are specifically intended for white people.
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#19 John_Rebus

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 04:54 PM

View PostMatthew Winn, on 30 June 2013 - 04:45 PM, said:

Which shows that don't specifically have racial issues as a plot element have a requirement for the characters to be white? I honestly can't think of any at the moment. I know many shows are cast as white by default, but as I said, that's not the same thing.[...]

Well, as Glinda (Wicked) and Elle (Legally Blonde) are Blondes, I'm quite sure these two won't ever be played by coloured women...
Not sure about Christine (Phantom) though; I'm quite sure they had a coloured Carlotta, so if she had a strong soprano, why not cast a coloured Christine? Same holds I think for Fiona (Shrek) (despite the need for a strong soprano). I think even Sherrie (Rock of Ages) might work, if they used another (non-blonde) wig...

Edit: Just for clarification: As the same holds also for e.g. asian actresses, It should rather be non-white in the above
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#20 Cactus

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:12 PM

Surely the fact that roles which aren't specified as white are predominantly thought of as white and cast as white by default should be even more worrying? I'm repeating myself here but that's especially true when roles that are specified as non-white are cast as white, too.




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